Saturday, 13 January 2018


This puzzle appeared as Inquisitor 1523 on 30th December 2017 in the i newspaper.

Twenty three clues contain an extra word.  In clue order, the initial letters provide four courses, while the final letters provide their accompanying drinks.  Reflecting the thematic sketch cryptically indicated by one of the unclued entries, clashes in six cells should be left blank in four instances to note absentees while the other two should be marked with an X.   The name of the other character present should be entered below the grid.   The remaining unclued entries are the surnames of those involved.  Enumerations refer to grid entries.


The theme is the comedy short annually repeated on New Year’s Eve particularly in Germany (the date translating to “Silvester” in German) called “DINNER FOR ONE” (hence, DINNER at 1a), a sketch starring Freddie FRINTON and May WARDEN.  The food provided is SOUP, HADDOCK, CHICKEN and FRUIT (the initial letters of extra words) accompanied by SHERRY, WINE, CHAMPAGNE and PORT (the final letters of those same words).  The grid is an approximate plan layout of the sketch, with the butler JAMES, literally ‘under the table’.  The frequently tripped over TIGER and the host, Lady SOPHIE are to be marked with an X, while the absentees referred to (Mr POMEROY, Mr WINTERBOTTOM, Sir TOBY and Admiral von SCHNEIDER) are left blank.

Dinner For One (Wikipedia Background)

Some analysis and solver feedback can be found on the Fifteensquared blog site under the link:

Inquisitor 1523: Silvester by Eclogue

Monday, 8 January 2018

Seasons Greetings IX

Continuing Eclogue's series of "Seasons Greetings" Christmas-themed crosswords for Derek Harrison's Crossword Centre, number nine begins with a preamble which informs solvers that
"Each clue contains a misprint in the definition.  Correct letters in clue order spell out how to resolve clashes along with further instructions.  Solvers must complete these and highlight the clued light that identifies the outcome.  Enumerations refer to grid entries."

Seasons Greetings IX solution grid

Solvers should eventually discover that:

The twelve clashes form PE/AR, DO/VE, HE/N, BI/RD, RI/NG, GO/OSE, SW/AN, MA/ID, LA/DY, LO/RD, PI/PER and DRUM/MER, alluding to each of the gifts from the “12 Days of Christmas”.  The instructions read REPLACE WITH DOTS, JOIN DOTS IN NUMERICAL ORDER, THEN BACK TO PEAR, to form the closed polygon of a six-pointed STAR.  31A should therefore be highlighted to indicate a “star in the East”.

Solver feedback on this puzzle:

  • My favourite type of construction; many thanks to eclogue.
  • We thought this was a delightful puzzle. Many thanks and seasons greetings to Eclogue.
  • Beautifully done Eclogue
  • Thank you for a ‌very nice puzzle ; many excellent clues and an elegant finish 
  • A most entertaining puzzle, thank you.  For me there was a lengthy period when I knew there was a surfeit of letters but could not work out what was going on.  It has kept me enthralled all week as I dipped into it when time allowed.  Very cleverly worked out, all credit to Eclogue, thank you.  Difficult to pick out the best clue but in 2 down it took me ages to work out that we were not talking Euro currency. 
  • Thankyou Eclogue for an excellent, and difficult, Christmas puzzle
  • What a lovely Christmas present from Eclogue.  I'd figured out the star, but almost missed the brilliant song theme, by trying to use a K instead of an R as the final corrected letter - but then I saw it, and the 12 words all fell into place!  Thank you Eclogue 
  • Comment:  An excellent challenge and a great idea for a puzzle.  My breakthrough came when I adjusted ASPERATES correctly to reveal PI with PER in a cell.   
  • In the ~5 years I've been solving Crossword Center Prize Puzzles, this may be my favorite thus far. I fear words can't do justice to the setter's ingenuity (and brilliant execution). Truly a star turn by Eclogue!  NB: The first clash I encountered was "DY/LA" in 40a/42d. The N in the square below that suggested DYLAN, which made me think of Dylan Thomas and wonder if the theme had something to do with "A Child's Christmas in Wales." Fortunately, it wasn't long before I encountered PER/PI, which set me on the right track. 
  • Ho ho ho!  That was fun!
  • Many thanks to Eclogue for a real gem. I almost threw in the towel a couple of times but, happily, persevered. When the P finally D (with a huge clunk) I made pretty good progress and finished in a leisurely couple of hours whilst enjoying the cruciverbal scenery.  
  • Thanks and congratulations (and seasons greetings) to Eclogue, for finding appropriate words with the necessary letters in the right places to set up the clashes. I didn't find this at all easy, even though I fairly quickly realised what the clashes were producing. There were some cleverly constructed misprints, males/malis, a reference to Indian gardeners rather than the blatantly sexist clue it first appeared, for one.
  • Here's my entry for December,  Some difficulty (well, failure, actually) persuading the two components to act as one picture for the purposes of putting in an email, so the image is in a .doc file attached.  Very impressive grid. 
  • A clever rendition of the theme and a very neat construction to maintain symmetry while incorporating twelve thematic items in fixed positions.  Thanks to Eclogue for the enjoyment. 
  • A wonderful idea brilliantly executed.  Finding definitions which provide the desired misprints and produce the entries necessary for thematic material is an arduous job.  To do that for all the clues, rather than some, must have taken much work.  Eclogue’s reward is the even greater delight solvers derived from tackling the puzzle.  I especially liked MALIS/MALES, MAYO/MAYA and MATHS/MATES. Many thanks and a Happy New Year to Eclogue. 
  • Much enjoyed this. Very professional. Thanks.
  • The first clash I found was RING but I needed LADY and MAID before I guessed how they were related and a few more to see that they were symmetrically placed. Once I had found all of the clashes in the lower half of the grid I somehow got the idea that the shape was a Christmas tree even though I thought the "trunk" was too pointed.  I first learned the song from a source with 12 lords, 11 ladies, 10 pipers and 9 drummers, so I have to think carefully if I want to remember the "correct" numbers of these gifts. I suppose the shape formed using this alternative order (or any other) will not be accepted. 
  • A tough but fair solve, but vague following instructions.  I think it's supposed to be a star, but mine looks more like someone dropped a few dozen matches on the ground. I wasn't sure how the dots were to be connected, because every dots has two numerical values, across and down, and there was also what looked like an outlier to the symmetry. Maybe I'm wrong somewhere along the line, but if 30D had been Sophomores, then there would have been symmetry in the dots. It looks more like a star if I don't join the dots.  As always thanks for the challenge.